Attenuated – Part Five

Myles was lost in a crowd. Faceless bodies pushed past and buffeted him with elbows and hands. He had to make it to the computer terminal before the timer ran out. Shoving through to the sidewalk, facing multiple lanes of blurred traffic. He stepped off the curb, hands extended waving for cars to stop.

A large truck bore down on him, beeping its horn louder and louder.

Myles woke, alarm squealing in the background. Early morning light streaming through the blinds. Damn, he was late. He hurried to the bathroom, shrugging on his least dirty shirt. Splashing water on his face, ignoring the slight stubble and circles under his eyes.

Gail was probably texting him now, demanding status reports.

He ran out the front door, tucking in his shirt. Myles hopped into a hastily summoned rideshare, an unwanted expense, but he couldn’t afford to wait for public transport. SuccINCt was strict about attendance and punctuality. As an intern, he didn’t have much leeway compared to full-time employees.

He ran through the lobby, pushing past the turnstile, taking the first elevator up to his floor. Gail’s office was empty. A small mercy considering how late he was. Sitting down in front of his computer, he logged in, opening his work queue for the day.

Normally he would be happy to have a full workload, as it made the time pass faster. His head was groggy and he felt out of sorts, sorting through the rest of his assignments. Myles hadn’t seen Gail all day, which suited him fine. The last thing he needed was his boss riding his back.

An instant memo popped up on his screen, from one of the creative directors “See me soon-as, new campaign asst.”

He had been drafted by yet-another-senior staff member to be the errand boy on a new project. Sighing, Myles locked his machine and headed towards the director’s office. All higher-ranking employees had offices on the edge of the floor plan, which afforded window views and doors that shut.

Myles wondered if he would ever reach that status.

Walking into the office, Myles sat in the nearest chair with his tablet ready.

“Good, you’re here. I’m going to need your help on a new project.”

Alan pushed his clear-framed glasses up on his narrow nose. As one of the higher level creatives, he didn’t have to wear a suit and tie. Myles found himself envying the unbuttoned polo shirt, it looked extremely comfortable.

“Absolutely, just tell me what needs to be done.”

“Excellent, I’ll beam over the task list. This is a new account for us, so I don’t have to impress upon you the need for timely execution.”

Alan tapped his keyboard, invoking a data transfer via wireless.

“Sure thing, I’ll get on this right away.”

“See that you do. That will be all.”, Alan waved Myles away focusing on his monitor. It was easily twice the size of the one on Myles desk.

Myles walked slowly back to his cubicle, scrolling through the item list.

  • Mary Harrison – Primary candidate for city council, new campaign
  • Conrad Burke – Opposing candidate, see notations for background bio
  • M.H. focus on expanding opportunities, better jobs, lower tax rates – other client spec as needed
  • C.B. target failed policies, biased contractors, selective tax treatment – SAS enhancement opportunity

That acronym again. Myles sat down in his chair, syncing his tablet. Clicking on the imported folder, he skimmed the rest of the data. SuccINCt was gearing up to use the SAS “enhancements” he had read about. This was a first for the company, usually their campaigns were focused on retail products, not politics.

He felt a ball of worry grow slowly in his gut. If SuccINCt was expanding its interest into politics, they would have an obscene advantage. Last night’s reading delved into deep psychological territory, all centered around the “brain lock” phenomenon he had witnessed with Gail.

Myles had learned the “lock” phase was only the beginning. In that state, the brain was open to suggestion. Nearly any suggestion. Like voting for an opposing candidate kind of suggestion. It wouldn’t take much, push the cognitive envelope with a trigger phrase, then drop in the instructions.

It was elegant, like a well-written computer function. Except this was direct tampering with people’s brains. Myles sat back in his chair, staring out over the dividers. He couldn’t let this campaign air the way that it was. If SuccINCt used these tactics to gain power, there would be no end to it.

Leaning forward, he started a new document laying the details of his plan.

This had better work, or there would be hell to pay.

(To be continued.)